A simple guide of what to do if a CFL bulb breaks to stay safe.
In our recent article discussing the safety of CFL bulbs, we uncovered that while CFL bulbs are safe to use in your home, there are some precautions that need to be taken. To recap, CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury which is a chemical dangerous to people. To better understand the risk factors, a CFL bulb contains less than 1% of mercury that was once found in common household thermometers. We should also point out that the energy efficiency gains from CFL bulbs lower the total amount of mercury in the environment by reducing output from coal fired power plants. While it is still recommended to utilize CFL bulbs we want to ensure you and your family understands what to do if a CFL bulb breaks in your home.
There are a few basic precautionary steps that can be taken to avoid breaking a CFL bulb and prevention removes any hazard you may face. Utilizing a towel or drop cloth in the surrounding the area when changing the light bulb may stop the glass from breaking if dropped or at least contain mess. There are also bulbs with glass or plastic coverings, looking more like incandescent lights, which adds durability if dropped. There are also some common sense steps to use to avoid contamination such as not using the bulbs in table lamps or areas exposed to tiny hands and making sure the bulbs properly fit.
Accidents will happen regardless of all the prevention methods used, so empower yourself with the knowledge of what to do when a CFL breaks. The following cleanup process was found on the EPA’s website and augmented by information we found from Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection. It is important that your follow these instructions as close as possible in order to minimize exposure to mercury vapor.
While CFL bulbs are energy efficient alternatives to incandescent bulbs and normally considered safe for your home, being prepared for a broken bulb is important. Keep your electric bill low and your family safe by following the simple cleanup steps above or by doing your best to prevent breaking a bulb in the first place.